W.Va. students look for solutions to stink bugs
By Rachel Molenda
HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. -- Stink bugs grow more notorious each year for destroying crops and being a general nuisance in the Eastern Panhandle. Luckily for residents, eighth-graders at Hedgesville Middle School are searching for solutions to the area's smelly problem.
Wayne Bennett, an HMS science teacher, started doing stink bug trap experiments with his students two years ago. After seeing an easy-to-construct trap made out of plastic drink bottles, Bennett decided to challenge his classes.
"I told them, `Here's the idea, but I want you to modify it, change it. Make it your own," he said.
While some students stuck with the example shown in class, Bennett said, others got more creative with their traps. Cole Davis used a trick-or-treating jack-'o'-lantern, funnel and light for his experiment.
"I thought it was seasonally appropriate," Davis said.
Hannah Stover used a hamster ball outfitted with a headlamp for her trap. The lamp emitted two different colors of light, white and red, which allowed her to see what would attract more stink bugs.
"[The white] one was [better], just because it was brighter," Stover said. "[The red] one caught a decent amount because it pulls more heat."
While some students used their traps outside, others found that their contraptions were better suited for indoor use.
"I put it downstairs because it's ... really dark during the day, and we have dark curtains," Kristen Kindle said. "I caught ... 30-plus stinkbugs."
With 125 students at HMS participating in the stink bug experiment this year, Bennett said he would like to expand the project to include other middle schools in the Eastern Panhandle. Spring Mills Middle School has already joined this year, he said.
Bennett said he would like to expand the competition as far away as Hampshire and Mineral counties, despite the stink bug problem not being as much of an issue there.
"Every year, they go farther out," Bennett said. "Right now there's not a solution for it."
Students interviewed said they enjoyed the hands-on aspects of the stink bug project.
"That's a lot easier to learn from than bookwork," said Nicole Orr, who made her trap from a shoe box covered in black duct tape.
"I actually got to build something with random materials that I could find," Davis said.
Bennett said the project is set up to bring the scientific method outside the classroom. Students become more engaged when they are participating in addition to taking notes in class.
"Any time you can make it real world, they're going to connect with it," Bennett said.